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The upside of summer

Dandelion pesto, made with Gorgonzola cheese

Summer pesto:

One of the best ideas I know for making the best of summer is: Eat more pesto. Already this season I’ve had pestos made of basil, kale, dandelions, and mixtures including parsley, dill, cilantro, and thyme. I was afraid that the dandelion pesto would be bitter, but it wasn’t. I did my best to counteract the strong taste of dandelions with other strong tastes — a little malt vinegar, and Gorgonzola cheese. I’ve realized that parmesan doesn’t have to be the default cheese for pesto.

Summer reading:

I always like to have some good fiction and some good nonfiction going at the same time. I had high hopes this summer for Tad Williams’ The Dragonbone Chair, which was published in 1988. I stuck with it for 125 excruciating pages and finally flung it. Why did this book get so many fans and so many good reviews? It’s embarrassingly overwritten, lame in its attempts to be ever-so-clever in every last sentence. Nothing ever happens. There is scene after scene in which new characters are introduced, and dozens of other characters are named but never seen. There is scene after scene in new settings in an old castle, and dozens of other places are named but never seen. A database would be required to track it all. But there’s no motive to track it because it’s so boring. Who could possibly compare something this bad with the work of J.R.R. Tolkien? I’m not even going to waste shelf space on this book. On my next trip to the used book store, I’ll sell it. Until I can scare up some new fiction, I’ll stick with Peter Turchin’s new book, which I mentioned in a recent post.

Traveling persimmons:

For years, Ken and I have grieved over the abbey’s orchard. The peach crop always fails, early on. The squirrels steal all the apples exactly one day before they’re ripe. We do get some figs. But the trees that never let us down are the persimmon trees. They’re natives, so they’re not finicky and never sickly. For some reason, none of the wildlife raid the trees while the persimmons are still on the tree. They wait for it to drop. There are more persimmons in the yard each year than a single household can use. I do believe that Ken does his best to time his American college tours to persimmon season, which is late October. Last year, when he returned to Scotland, he took some persimmon seeds, which we had saved while making persimmon pudding. He planted the seeds in his Scottish greenhouse. He got lots of promising seedlings, some of which he took to Germany as a gift to his wife’s sister. In a few years, we’ll know how the trees are coming along. Our guess is that the German trees will like their climate better than the Scottish trees.

Summer watchables:

Because I don’t really watch broadcast (or cable) television, I had missed the long-running PBS series “Masterpiece Endeavour.” Just last month, the series had its ninth, and last, season on PBS. Having missed the earlier seasons, I decided to keep watching all of it, in order. I’m now on season 6. It is some of the best television I’ve ever seen. It’s intelligent, and made for adults. It’s not here-and-now. It’s set in Oxford in the late 1960s. The characters really grow on you. Each episode is complete in itself, but there are longer-running plot elements. I made a brief visit to Oxford in 2019. At the time, I didn’t know that the pub that I wanted to visit is the Lamb & Flag, which according to Wikipedia has been operating since 1566. Now I know. I’ll need another visit to Oxford to correct my mistake.

⬆︎ My coneflowers have perennialized. Lucky me!

⬆︎ Dill, bolted

⬆︎ Rose of Sharon

⬆︎ Baby persimmons, which won’t be ready until fall


  1. Henry Sandigo wrote:

    I love Cone Flowers thanks for the picture

    We usually buy dried persimmon from a local farm. I can’t recall the term but they are dried by using a Japanese method. Very tasty and chewy

    A newer Brit crime series Ridley, more contemporary in time. You should try it as well. Vera one of my favorite crimes British series. Alas Endeavour has ended

    Thursday, July 6, 2023 at 1:32 pm | Permalink
  2. Chenda wrote:

    Abbey is looking great David. Have you been impacted at all by the smoke or increasing temperatures ?

    Thursday, July 6, 2023 at 5:22 pm | Permalink
  3. daltoni wrote:

    Hi Henry: It will be very sad when I arrive at the last episode of Endeavour, but fortunately I’ve still got several seasons to watch.

    Hi Chenda: We had a strangely cool spring, but temperatures in the 90s arrived just over a week ago. Still, conditions have been much better here than in many parts of the U.S. Two moons ago, the full moon was a canary yellow because of the smoke, and last week a gray haze was everywhere. And now I’m reading about storms in western Europe!

    Thursday, July 6, 2023 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

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